4 Steps to Differentiate from the Competition

by Oct 30, 2018Solution Selling0 comments

Not Every Solution is Right for Every Customer
Sophisticated buyers know there are real differences in the products, services and solutions being offered.  Experienced solution sellers also know that any meaningful differentiation needs to be based upon the true needs of the customer while simultaneously being tangibly better than the other available alternatives.  Does your sales team know how to differentiate from the competition?

You’re Probably Not as Different as You Think You Are
Most companies want to believe that they do it better than everyone else.  Unfortunately, it often isn’t true.  We have asked thousands of sales leaders how they differentiate from the competition.  Sadly, we know from sales leader simulation assessment data that the most common answer sounds something like “Our amazing people are willing to do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.”  Guess what?  Almost every company tells that story and feels pretty much the same way.

Going above and beyond, having great people, and doing what it takes for your customer to be happy is a ticket to play the game in most industries.  Because of this, it is well worth the effort to carefully define what sets you apart from your competition from your ideal target customer’s point of view.

A Better Understanding of Your Differentiators
Thoughtfully assessing how to differentiate from the competition sounds easy, but it’s not.  Often the hardest part is separating yourself from your emotions and being absolutely objective from your customer’s point of view.  We all have our favorite selling points – the ones we feel most comfortable explaining and which we may have designed ourselves.  But are these the ones that win and keep customers the most effectively?

4 Steps to Create a More Realistic, Objective View of Your Differentiators

1. Identify All the Differentiation Possibilities by Customer Value
List all the potential differentiators you can think of and then identify the value of each – not to you but to your target customers. In general, a differentiator must be of highly applicable value to your target clients’ priorities AND be tangibly better, faster and/or cheaper than the available alternatives.  The more you involve current, lost, and potential clients in this process of uncovering what matters most, the better.

2. Rank all the Differentiators by Uniqueness
Make sure how you want to differentiate from the competition is truly unique to your ideal target clients. Compare your offerings not only to your competitors’ but also to internal customer options to ensure your unique value proposition is unlike anything else currently available.  Again, the more you involve current, lost, and potential clients in this process, the better.

3. Rank all the Differentiators by Value to You
Once you know the level of value and uniqueness to your target clients, it is time to determine the value to your company. Calculate the investment it will take to develop, market, sell, and deliver your unique value proposition compared to the return on that investment.  This should point you in the right direction.

4. Teach Everyone How to Articulate and Live Your Unique Value Proposition
How you link your solutions to your clients’ most pressing issues in a way that makes sense to them is a foundational skill of a high performance sales culture. That means you need to be able to identify what matters most to your clients and articulate why your solution makes the most sense in a way that resonates with them.  This should be part of every business sales training and sales negotiation training.

The Bottom Line
The best solution sellers know who their best clients are and are well versed in what sets their offerings apart from the competition.  They consistently differentiate themselves, their company, and their offerings in the right way to the right people with a unique, clear, and compelling value proposition.  Are you as different as you need to be to win?

To learn more about how to differentiate yourself from the competition, please download How to Create a Unique Value Proposition that Sets Your Apart

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